Saturday, June 25, 2011

Gepps Cross Market... A Cold Way To Start A Winters Sunday

Sunday is a day when many people (including myself) love to have a slow, relaxing (lazy) day... especially come winter time. Now Adelaide's winters aren't that bad. There's no snow. No blizzards. Not even a half decent frost. But last weekend was a challenge for our family. Up and out the door by 8am to go grocery shopping. On a Sunday.

For those that don't know, Adelaide's shopping regulations mean that shops generally open after 11am. But then again, we weren't going to a normal shop. It's the Gepps Cross Treasure Market... about 11km north of  the city, in the Wallis Mainline Drive-In Theatre. Yes - that's right, there are such things as Drive-In Theatres still around - though this is the only one still operating in Adelaide.
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T-chan's Japanese friends had for some time been telling T-chan about the wonders of Gepps Cross Markets... and for a long time we'd been nodding our heads (somewhat patronizingly) saying yes, doesn't it sounds wonderful. Fresh vegetables and so cheap. It must be fantastic, I'm sure. But still, we pretty well persisted with the whole buying at the SUPERmarket. It was, after all, super. Then T-chan (who is a notorious late waker) decided one week to try it out. And, when she came back it was like she'd joined a cult. It is cheap, and is good value! Why have we shopped at supermarkets all this time?!?!?!

Now the Gepps Cross Treasure Markets opens at 7am (the sellers get there from 5am, even in winter)... and by about 8am you can still get a park (try across Pt Wakefield Rd, at the auto sellers). The sellers are a combination of growers and retailers looking for an extra market outlet. And yes - it's at least 50% cheaper than supermarkets on a lot of stuff. And yes - I'd say it was better value than Adelaide's Central Market which is so very popular, and which I posted about recently. By the way - you often see a line up of cars up to 200m long waiting to get in to the site around 10-11 am... the dis-advantage of an late morning arrival.

There are lots of stalls - and I mean LOTS. I'd estimate at least 50 - 70 different food stalls - and that's just the fruit and veg! Now for buyers, it costs $1.50 per person to enter (hmm - that seems a little strange to me... but still you make that up pretty quickly).

The interesting thing is working out where to buy from - there's so many sellers that finding out where to buy... but that only takes a few times to work out. Now the upside is the variety and competition that drives down prices. The downside is that the markets are a whole lot less regulated. That also means that quality can be hit and miss.

Now I would have assumed that a produce market would also mean that the produce is grown locally. Wrong. There's every chance that you'll find cheap transported or dare I mention it, imported, fruit and veg here, so be aware. As an example, we found a lot of rock melons for sale, very cheap. In the middle of winter? In Adelaide? I'm pretty sure that they've either come from up north (in Queensland) or even further up north.... Still there were a lot of citrus and apples around, and I'm reasonably confident in them... I think.

And then there's a different sort of produce... egss. Now free range eggs in the super market normally cost around $5+ for a dozen. How about $5 for 30 free range eggs. That's not too bad a bargain... is it? Of course, the whole weight of responsibility is on you as a buyer to be happy that you believe the seller's claims... and I suspect that you've got next to no chance of getting a refund if you find the quality's not good (this is strictly a cash enonomy here).

As an example of the differences, when I was taking photos I was told by one of the 'staff' that I couldn't photograph in the markets. Huh?... I checked with someone else, and was told that the stall owners don't like it? What, don't like free advertising? Something's not quite right here....

Indeed, when I knew this market before, it went by the name of 'trash and treasure market' - an interesting way of describing a flea market (which is itself an lovely english term). And yes, there's still an element of that in the Gepps Cross markets today... and you will find both semi-commercial (imported?) goods and also the more home-sourced goods at this end of the market. The sort of area that may not want to be photographed (for good reason). Still, I have to admit that part of me wants to argue the point... something along the lines that it's a free world, and about god-given rights to blog (and hence photograph) about whatever I want... etc etc blah blah blehhhhhh. At the end of the day - it's private property, and if they wanna miss out on free advertising - who am I to stand in their way?

At the end of the day - it was quite amazing to get L-kun up and shopping at 8 in the morning (and yes - even though T-chan's been a incorrigible sleep-in-er, she's pretty good come Sunday mornings when it's time to go to the market). I'm not sure that I'll be joining her too often though... as it turns out, I like my lazy Sunday mornings....

As for us - we still do a bit of shopping at the supermarket (as we're habitual impulse cookers - eating what we want, when we want - which tends to make us look for ingredients at least 2-4 times a week). But it's starting to become part of our life.

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